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London-Detainee-Weblogo

KISA notes that the Deputy Director of the Civil Registry and Migration Department (CRMD) continues with the practice of detention of vulnerable individuals under international protection status aiming to gain their consent to their deportation from Cyprus. This policy utterly violates refugee law. At the same time, it violates the human rights of the refugees in question, who have in some cases been driven to desperation and led at death’s door. The reason behind this statement derives from a new case involving the detention with the purpose of deportation of a refugee from Mosul, Iraq (A.A), who has subsidiary protection status and faces serious health issues.

Mr A.A arrived in Cyprus and applied for international protection in 2004. In 2009, following a 5-year delay, the relevant authorities examined his asylum application and issued him with subsidiary protection status. The individual in question has, in the recent years, been faced with a number of serious problems, which have derived from his refugee background as well as from violations of his rights committed by the authorities in Cyprus. These problems are involved with:

  • The fact that the authorities in Cyprus deprive him of the status of recognized refugee, which should have reasonably been given to him based on his personal circumstances and particularly on the basis of his origins from the city of Mosul, which is occupied by the ‘Islamic State’.
  • The authorities’ denial to provide him with a valid travel document in violation of the European acquis and the Refugee Act, since the authorities insist in denying issuing travel documents to those with international protection status. In this case, the denial of the issuance of travel documents deprives Mr A.A of his rights to travel anywhere outside the country and especially to travel to Canada where his Canadian wife lives.

At the same time, the loss of any contact with his family, which is trapped in Mosul, and the recent death of his father in battles to free the city from the Islamic State, have led to the deterioration of his health. Except from these, A.A’s health has been further shaken by the loss of his employment and his addiction to addictive substances.

On the 27th August 2016, Mr A.A was sentenced for committing a criminal offence and served a two-month sentence at the Central Prison. Immediately after his release and despite the fact that there is no prospect of deporting him to the occupied Mosul and regardless of the severe personal circumstances he is facing, he has been transferred and is being held to the detention centre in Menoyia until today, on the basis of detention and deportation orders issued by the Deputy Director of the CRMD.

The detention of the individual in question is illegal and ethically deplorable for the following reasons:

  1. The treatment of a person with international protection as ‘forbidden migrant’ violates refugee law.
  2. The international protection status on the one hand, and the lack of any prospect of finding a safe country, that would grant entry and residence permit to a refugee from Mosul constitutes the prospective deportation impossible and in contradiction with the European and national legal framework regarding returns of undocumented migrants.
  3. The state of his condition not only places him within the vulnerable categories of persons that are protected against detention for deportation purposes, but deteriorates day by day due to the conditions of his detention which have resulted in substantial fears even for his own life.
  4. The authorities have suggested that he consents to his return to Malaysia, a country which is not safe for refugees as it has not even ratified the UN Convention for refugees.

KISA categorically condemns the CRMD Deputy Director’s practice to detain vulnerable refugees in Menoyia [1]. The practice in question, despite being illegal, it is also ethically comprehensible since it is obviously being used as means of coercion of vulnerable refugees in order to consent to their ‘voluntary deportation’ in a ‘non-safe third country’ such as Malaysia. In fact, in the past, refugee who has consented to this practice exercised by the Cypriot authorities has died during his attempt to go by sea from Malaysia to Australia.

At the same time, except from the illegal detention of refugees, the authorities insist in not complying with the Refugee Law provision that involves the granting of travel documents to individuals under international protection. This stance by the authorities was the main reason that Mr A.A did not have the opportunity to travel to a country with an Iraqi consulate in order to begin the process of issuing a new passport with the purpose of moving permanently to Canada.[2]

In light of all of the above, KISA asks:

  1. The termination of the illegal and ethically reprehensible practice whereby vulnerable refugees are being detained so as to consent to leave the country for a ‘non-safe third country’.
  2. The immediate release of Mr A.A, as well as all asylum applicants and holders of international protection status who are being held in Menoyia.
  3. The immediate compliance of the authorities with the provision under the Refugee Law involving the issuance of travel documents to persons under international protection.

[1] See a recent similar case: https://goo.gl/9Xxhps

[2] His passport has been stolen about a year ago